UK government urged to act on Malawi arrests

This is a guest post by Peter Tatchell

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband is being urged to press the Malawian government to release two men, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who are being held on remand over their alleged homosexual relationship, to drop all charges against them and to repeal the country’s anti-gay laws.

Mr Miliband is also being asked to seek a halt to the arrest and prosecution of three Malawian human rights campaigners, who publicly defended the jailed men and secured them legal representation.

The call comes from the London-based LGBT human rights group OutRage! Spokesperson, David Allison, has written to the Foreign Secretary, appealing to him to make representations to the President of Malawi, his Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

A copy of Mr Allison’s letter follows below.

Meanwhile a letter of “support and solidarity” from OutRage!’s Peter Tatchell is being delivered to Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga in Chichiri Prison, Malawi. The two men, who were arrested following their engagement ceremony late last year, are being held on remand on gay sex charges ahead of their trial on 15 January

For background on the Malawi arrests, see here.

Protest to the Malawian High Commissioner in London:
His Excellency Dr. Francis Moto, High Commission of Malawi, 70 Winnington Road, London N2 0TX, United Kingdom.

Telephone: +44(0) 20 8455 5624, Fax: +44(0) 20 3235 1066.

Email: malawi@malawihighcommission.co.uk

Copy of the OutRage! letter to David Miliband MP, British Foreign Secretary

David Miliband MP
Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH

6 January 2010

Dear Secretary of State,

This letter is in support of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, citizens of Malawi, who are being held in custody in Chichiri Prison, Malawi, and denied bail, on charges of consenting adult homosexuality
following their same-sex engagement ceremony.

In doing so they have committed no criminal offence under the laws of Malawi. The ceremony is legal in Malawi and no laws were broken by the
two participants.

The news release below provides more comprehensive details about their case.

We ask you to intercede with the President of Malawi, his Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to urge that these two men are not ill-treated while in prison, to urge that they are swiftly released on bail and to urge that all charges against them are dropped.

We further ask you to press the Government of Malawi to initiate moves to decriminalise homosexuality in accordance with the equality and non-discrimination clauses of the Malawian constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Finally, we ask that you call upon the Malawian government to halt police harassment and legal proceedings against HIV educators and human rights defenders from the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP); three of whose workers have recently been arrested following their public defence of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga and following their HIV education work with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I hope that you feel able to make these humanitarian representations to the leaders of Malawi and that you will advise us at your earliest opportunity.

Thank you.

David Allison
OutRage! – The LGBT Human Rights Campaign

Donate to the Malawi Defence Campaign

To make a donation from a UK bank within the UK, make an electronic
bank transfer to OutRage!

Account name: OutRage
Bank: Alliance and Leicester Commercial Bank, Bootle, Merseyside, GIR 0AA
Account number: 7780 9302
Sort code: 72-00-01

For electronic transfers from abroad, please ADDITIONALLY quote this:

IBAN: GB65ALEI72000177809302

Or post a cheque payable to “OutRage!” to OutRage!, PO Box 17816,
London SW14 8WT. Enclose a note giving your name and address and
stating that your donation is for the Malawi Defence Campaign.
OutRage! will pass the money donated to the LGBT campaign team in
Malawi. Thank you.